Rustic Apple Tart, Kwêla and Childhood Memories!
I also knew that such a story would have to include Apple Tart, because not only is that my favorite winter treat, but my roots lie firmly in Ceres, which is famous for its delicious apples.
Imagine how thrilled I was, when the team decided that we can shoot the whole story in Ceres, which by the way I think is the most beautiful town in all the world. I love this time of the year especially with the foggy, misty mornings, Jack frost nipping at your nose and the snow-capped mountains – fairytale stuff, I promise!
I am often asked where my passion and love for food really started and I have to say the cliche is true, I have learned it from my mother, who learned it from her mother and so on and so on….. I cannot think of one single memorable moment in my life that was not in some way or another celebrated with food. Whether it was the birth of a new borne or the death of a beloved, there was just always food. Seasonal eating was not a concept we knew much about, but every season had it’s food highlights for me as a child. With the arrival of summer, came the baskets full of Hails Haven peaches from the tree in our back yard. Standing there under the tree, eating to your hearts content made a lasting impression on me. With winter came the soups and the stews and pies. My gran used to bake these big Soetsuurdeeg Breads(farm loaves) every Friday. Fridays were also soup days in our house so after school we would drive our bicycles to my Gran’s house and after your visit with tea and biscuits( ..and a scolding because she “hardly ever sees us”), she would present you with a loaf of bread, wrapped in a pristine white cloth, to take home. Carefully this loaf would be fastened to the bicycle’s carrier for the trip back home where it will be the main focus on the supper table with soup, butter and jam.
Another wonderful memory that I treasure is looking for pine nuts in the pine forest behind our house. Today it is such a delicacy, but in those days, it was just such a natural thing to do…
Entertaining people was such a natural thing to do, no one ever left our house without having shared a meal or at least a teatime treat with us. Cost and time was never an issue!
I try and live as much of that life as possible, because I owe it to my children to pass on this legacy. It takes a little time and effort to make it seem timeless and effortless, but in the end, it is just all so worth it. I want my children to remember me for my warm cups of tea rather than the early mornings I woke them just to study again, I want them to remember the happy moments we spent round our table and I want them to learn that giving is far more rewarding than taking….. and in this kitchen mommy is always there to give comfort, edible or not!!
If I have to describe my way of cooking I think the word that comes to mind, is Rustic. I like unpretentious cooking, recipes that is short enough to be scribbled on a napkin or piece of paper and passed on from generation to generation. I cook with what is available, fresh vegetables, fruit and good organic meat, no fancy frills and gimmicks.
When I had to choose a recipe for the shoot, it was really an easy decision, because Ceres is apple country and what better way to celebrate this bounty than to make a Rustic Apple Tart! With this tart I wanted to incorporate all these happy childhood ingredients, like apples, pine nuts and puff pastry……oh another memory, maybe I tell it to you next time!
Rustic Apple Tart
1½ kg apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady
1 cup brown sugar
1 sticks cinnamon
1 thumb size piece of ginger – grated
a few pieces of lemon peel
125ml pine nuts
1 roll puff pastry – buy the best you can find
1 egg for egg wash
Preheat oven to 200C. Peel and core the apple. Slice in big chunks and keep submerged in cold water to prevent them from turning brown. Heat a heavy based pot on the stove and melt the butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon peel and ginger and allow to slowly caramelize. Take care not to burn it. Add the apples and allow the apples to also caramelize. You can add a small amount of water to help with the cooking of the apples. You want the apples to be cooked but firm. Transfer the apples to a baking dish, sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and allow to cool while you roll out the pastry. Take some of the egg white and spread ion the edge of the baking dish – it acts as a glue for the pastry lid. Place the pastry over the apples, trim the edges and crimp it with your forefinger and thumb. Paint the egg wash over the top and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is all puffed out and gold brown. Serve with chilled pouring cream and a steaming mug of coffee!